50,000 Ugandans told to relocate over landslide fears

Saturday April 6 2013

By Xinhua

Following the onset of heavy rains in mountainous eastern Uganda, the government has directed families living along the high-risk steep slopes of along Mt Elgon to relocate to safer areas.

Musa Ecweru, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Refugees and Relief, told Xinhua on Friday that the heavy rains were likely to trigger disastrous landslides. 

The meteorological department forecasts that most parts of the country will receive above normal rains from March to May. 

More than 50,000 people are estimated to be living on high-risk districts of Bulambuli, Manafwa, Bududa, Sironko and Kapchorwa.

Landslides have killed hundreds of people along the slopes of Mt Elgon since 2010. The most disastrous landslide struck Nametsi in Bududa district claiming over 200 people in March 2010.  

Another 29 perished in Bulambuli the following year while 18 people were buried in landslides at Bulucheke sub-county, Bududa district, in August last year.

Despite risks, persons residing in high-risk areas are hesitant to relocate to safer areas because of the fertility of the land and according some locals, the difficulty of staying with host families. 

Aidah Nandatu, 64, a resident of Bumwalukani village in Bulucheke Sub-county, said that most families, despite having tents, climbed back to the risky area. 

“The host family can allocate you a perch of land to erect your tent but they can’t feed you. I had to bring back my family of 10 to this area,” Nandatu said.

In Nametsi, most people who were relocated to Kiryandongo in western Uganda have returned to the area. In Bulucheke, residents have erected tents at the epicentre of last year’s landslide.

The heavy rains have created fresh cracks along the steep mountainous slope. 

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